Given the early promise he showed at Fulham all those years ago, it’s fair to say Chris Smalling’s career hasn’t quite lived up to expectation.
Sure, the centre-back has lifted two Premier League titles, an FA Cup, a League Cup and a Europa League trophy during his time at Manchester United, while he’s also picked up 31 caps for England.
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- Smalling has struggled for form with Man Utd in recent years.
- He was loaned out to Roma this season after Man Utd signed Harry Maguire.
- The 30-year-old ranks second at the club for aerial duels won (41) and interceptions made (17) in Serie A.
- Smalling also notched his second goal of the season during Roma’s 3-0 win over Brescia.
- This makes him the first Englishman to score at least two goals in a single Serie A season since David Beckham (2008/09).
But at 30 years old, is this the sheer level of success Smalling envisaged when he joined Man Utd? After all, Sir Alex Ferguson himself hand-picked him as one of the key players to lead the club forward after his departure.
But for centre-backs, 30 is nowhere near over the hill – just ask John Terry, or current Brazil international and PSG stalwart Thiago Silva, who is still going strong at 35.
And Smalling is currently doing a good job of reinventing himself on loan with Italian giants Roma, where he’s made more blocks (9) than any other player at the club in Serie A this season, while he ranks second for aerial duels won (41) and interceptions made (17).
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But throughout his career, Smalling has had an understated habit of popping up with goals – a habit which was on show once again as Roma beat Brescia 3-0 at the weekend, with the defender bagging his second goal of the season and notching an assist.
This makes Smalling the first English player to score two goals in the same Serie A season since David Beckham for AC Milan way back in 2008/09.
Not bad for a player who was once mistakenly called “Mike” by Louis van Gaal.